Did you know that over 53 million Americans have turned to freelancing? Freelance work continues to skyrocket thanks to a changing business environment. More and more workers are taking their skills off the road, and staying in their own house. Arguably the largest market for freelance work is in the computer field. Whether it is Python development or graphic design, many companies are now hiring from the growing field of freelance workers to accomplish projects both small and large. This new model presents new challenges compared to traditional hiring methods which typically factor in face-to-face interviews and things like insurance and benefits. With this changing market comes new tips and ideas on how to find a great freelancer for your business or project. Here are some of the great ways that I've found freelancers for my business.

  1. Use previous connections: You can look at resumes and resources until your eyes glaze over and the words all mesh together, but sometimes the greatest freelancers can be found by tapping into your connections or people that you're connected with. I created my company was for this exact reason. We're all just 6 degrees of separation. Shoot an email out to your connections, find out if they have used any freelancers recently and if they have one they highly recommend. By asking your connections first, you're saving valuable time and getting references from people you trust. I find that my connections are GOLD and the more I can gain insights and other connections from them, the more my startup will grow.
  2. Use an online resource: Sites like Toptal have great resources for those looking to hire a freelancer for specific task or job. They makes it easy to find someone by breaking down their talent pool into two major categories: Developers and Designers, making the search painless and quick. By using an online resource like Toptal, you're able to tap into a global pool of talented freelancers to find the perfect fit for your project. They also take the stress out of paying the freelancer by simplifying the process and paying Toptal directly. They then take care of payments to the freelancer, leaving you free to focus on the business and project.
  3. Have your budget and timeline in place: If you're hiring a freelancer for a specific project, it might seem like a good idea to be flexible on these things, and to not commit to a timeline until you find a freelancer that fits, but this most certainly isn't the case. Having your budget, timeline, and goals in place before searching for a freelancer will make the search process easier and will make sure both parties are compensated fairly. If you're looking for an app to help manage your timelines and goals with freelance workers, Asana and Pyrus are both great places to start and makes it easy to collaborate with your freelance crew. If you're looking for a more casual way to interact with your freelancer, Slack is perfect for that.
  4. Avoid going the "cheap" route: Once you enter the sea on freelance workers you're going to be barraged by designers and programmers offering a full spectrum of pricing. While it may be tempting to hire that freelancer who offers their work for $8/hr, the old adage "You get what you pay for" holds true in the freelance world, as well. There's a big difference between hiring a professional freelancer and hiring that guy down the street who does some programming on the weekends.
  5. Use social media to find freelancers: Sometimes the best place to go to find a freelancer is to hop over to one of the many social media sites to see what you can find. While LinkedIn is a great starting point and something we like to focus on, Twitter can be a valuable resource, as well. Not all freelancers are on freelance websites, and you might be able to snag a hidden gem hiding in plain sight. When using this method, however, be sure to check their credentials and ask for examples of work before committing to the hire. While Twitter and LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource, you will need to be thorough before making a decision. Don't be afraid to ask for a "trial run," either. You'll need to pay them for this, obviously, but this gives you the chance to check them out before committing to a large project with them.

Hiring a freelancer can be a great way to get great work, without having to hire a full time employee. Instead of paying a full time developer a set salary, and only have them working 50% of the time, you can hire a freelancer to help with projects, meaning your money is going exactly where it needs to go. Regardless of how you go about finding a freelancer, it is imperative to have a detailed game plan ready. You are paying for a project, but if you yourself are unsure about what to do or how long it will take, you will find yourself either spending too much money or getting subpar work. By being as detailed as possible, you give yourself the best chance at finding the best freelancer for the job.